Developmental Adaptations in Roots of Desert Plants with Special Emphasis on Cacti

Authored by: Joseph G. Dubrovsky , Svetlana Shishkova

Plant Roots

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9781439846483
eBook ISBN: 9781439846490
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b14550-33

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Abstract

An important question in root developmental biology would be how adaptations acquired during millennia of plant evolution affect current root development, or, the subject of this chapter, which root developmental mechanisms become adaptive traits in desert plants. Therefore, we would elucidate a framework of developmental processes in roots of desert plants that can help us understand how they are related to plant adaptation to this specific environment. The concept of “developmental adaptations” implies those developmental programs that evolved in response to environmental conditions (Dubrovsky and North 2002). Here, we apply this concept to roots of desert plants. We will first give a short overview of desert environmental conditions; next, we will outline the main ecological groups of desert plants and then consider the main developmental adaptations of root systems in desert environments. These adaptations will be analyzed in various plant species but with special emphasis on Cactaceae as one of the best studied groups of desert plants in terms of root development. General reviews on roots of desert plants and their adaptive features can be found in the literature (Cannon 1911; Drew 1979; Rundel and Nobel 1991; Dubrovsky and North 2002; Nobel 2002).

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